For the first time in the history of the crop, Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina is conducting a referendum for an assessment on the crop in the state of North Carolina. Graham Boyd, Executive Vice President of TGANC discusses the referendum and the purpose:
“Farmers are familiar with the checkoff system of support or an assessment as it may commonly be referred to. This one in particular will focus on domestic tobacco issues, not only on marketing but a lot of policy issues that we are confronted with and many of the changes that are occurring in the industry. We have for 30+ years been a voluntary dues paid organization and that has been very successful.
It used to be that we were focused almost entirely on the production challenges and issues in the field related to tobacco, all of which we have well in check. The new challenge to tobacco farming is the onslaught of attacks, the societal attacks and the negativity aimed at cigarettes first but now at tobacco as a crop. Its even being directed at tobacco farmers. We have to prepare ourselves to be a strong voice in representing and defending ourselves.
We focus on the economic importance of the crop, both historically and in the future. Now I spend the majority of my time trying to defend the right of our farmers to be able to grow this tobacco and not be villanized for doing that.
Farmers have 90 days to vote yes or no, in favor or opposed to supporting an assessment on the product. It will be ten cents per 100 pounds marketed. So in NC, with a 2300 pound crop average, it would be $2.30 an acre for the assessment.
If all of our growers don’t contribute and participate through the debate then we will find ourselves out of the tobacco growing business.”
Ballots are due back to North Carolina Department of Agriculture, by mail, by June 19th.